It’s laudable to make the entirety of human knowledge, especially scientific, available for free. But what about that free lunch?
The Public Library of Science (PLoS), the flagship publisher for the open-access publishing movement, faces a looming financial crisis. An analysis of the company’s accounts, obtained by Nature, shows that the company falls far short of its stated goal of quickly breaking even. In an attempt to redress its finances, PLoS will next month hike the charge for publishing in its journals from US$1,500 per article to as much as $2,500.
In the beginning, libraries were excited about the open access movement because it promised to save them money from the serials budget. However, as Phil Davis pointed out last year, libraries still face the price of print subscriptions, plus membership fees, as well as having to subsidize author submission fees. From this angle, open access looks like less of a bargain than a mechanism to subsidize research and development for new publications.